When researching for this article, I found it very interesting to learn that food allergies in dogs is very uncommon. Further, it is a condition that is over diagnosed by some veterinarians. According to an article written by a veterinarian, only 10% of dog allergies are food related. Flea and environmental allergies will cause more itchiness and skin problems than a food allergy.
Many times a dog may have food intolerance, but not a true allergy to the food. There is a difference. When a dog has a real allergy to food his symptoms will be severe itching of skin, hives or skin breakouts, etc. Food intolerance on the other hand, may cause the dog to vomit or have diarrhea and does not create a typical allergic reaction. Because of the vomiting and diarrhea, many pet owners and veterinarians will assume the pet has a food allergy.
When a dog has a food allergy, it can strike at any age and may be caused by a protein or carbohydrate in the animal’s food. The things that can trigger a food allergy are beef, dairy products, chicken, wheat, chicken eggs, corn and soy. Many of these ingredients are in most of our dog’s food. These are the foods they are fed day in and day out so they are exposed to these ingredients on a regular basis. However, for a dog to develop a true food allergy they must not only have this chronic exposure, they must also have the genetic profile to develop this allergy.
Although food allergies are not common, adverse food reactions are. However, not all animals will react to certain ingredients in their food. There’s no way to predict who will. Some of the things they may react to are artificial dyes, preservatives and additives, and the gross rendered stuff that some companies add to dog food. That’s why it’s important to try to feed our dogs products that are natural or holistic or a raw diet to avoid some of these unsavory ingredients.
If a dog has a true food allergy, these are some of the symptoms you might notice. He might exhibit itching of the face, feet, and sides of the body, legs and anal area. These dogs also may develop yeast ear or skin infections. They respond well to antibiotics, but once the treatment is stopped, the symptoms return. Another sign of food allergy might be increased bowel movements or soft stools. As a reminder and to point out the difference, a food intolerance may cause vomiting and diarrhea.
The only way to find out if your dog has a food allergy is to perform a food trial with him. Blood work and skin tests are not reliable ways to determine if he has this condition. Although you will get results from these tests, they don’t accurately correlate with food allergies present in the dog. According to this study, it is not recommended by board certified dermatologists at this time.
The only true way to determine if your dog has a food allergy is to do a food trial using unique (novel) protein and carbohydrate foods to avoid possible allergens to which your dog has been previously exposed in order to cleanse their system of potential allergens. This trial period must be conducted for 8 – 12 weeks in order for it to be successful. During this trial period the dog must only eat the prescribed food with nothing else added. That means, no table scraps, no treats, no vitamins, no oils, and no medications such as heartworm preventative.
When the food trial is over, then the offending ingredients must be avoided. On the negative side, your dog may be fine for the next couple of years, but then he may develop a new allergy to something else.
Feeding a dog a raw diet is very beneficial if he has food allergies to preservatives, dyes and artificial additives. Because there are none of these ingredients to worry about with a raw diet, your dog may benefit from this way of feeding. If this is something that is not appealing to you, then going the natural or holistic route would be the next best thing for a dog that is sensitive to the ingredients put into that bag of dog food that we buy.
I think most breeders now are much more aware and educated about reading the ingredient labels on the dog food bags. Advising your pet buyers to continue on the same diet that you feed your dogs is a wise thing to do. Most of the time the new pet owner is receptive to following the diet that you advise him to follow if he wants his puppy to continue to be healthy. Some might consider buying a more expensive brand excessive and may want to feed him a store brand food. It is up to us to try to educate the pet people so they will have less reason to call us all hours of the night when Fido has a diarrhea attack.
My rating: natural or holistic foods: (4), raw foods (4)